Baja Team Takes First Place at Washington Event

After numerous top-10 finishes, team takes major award at biggest event of the season

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Also see: Formula Race Team Takes Fifth Place Among 120 Teams at Michigan Event

The Rochester Institute of Technology Baja SAE team placed first overall for the first time on U.S. soil in its recent national meet May 19–22 in Washington state. In its 20-plus year history, the team has made the top 10 overall on numerous occasions but had not received the top prize until this meet.

The team placed first in the rock climb event and second in maneuverability and it had top placements in endurance, hill climb and design portions of the competition. RIT competed against 99 other collegiate design teams from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, South Africa and India.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with our diverse group of students. They are one of the best teams I’ve been associated with in a long time,” says Marty Gordon, team advisor.

RIT entered two cars in the event. The second car also had a top-10 placement, taking seventh place overall. It placed third in the grueling four-hour endurance event.

RIT Baja’s first event was in 1980. It was one of 21 teams competing in the Baja East event. After a brief break from competitions in the mid-1990s, the team has consistently competed in at least three competitions yearly. Events have grown with an average of 90 teams participating, many from international colleges.

“It is great to see how far the team has come since we restarted in 1997. It is with great pleasure to see their first place victory especially heading into the final Baja SAE event hosted at Rochester, New York,” says Jason Rounds, an RIT Baja alumnus. Rounds is currently an engineer at Honda Manufacturing in Alabama. He was instrumental in resurrecting the RIT Baja program in 1997. Since then, the team has gone on to become a consistent top 20 finisher in the world, he adds.

“This is a world-class student-run organization. These students have proven their ability to take knowledge from the classroom and apply it to the real world. I can’t wait to see how the team does coming home to Rochester to compete in the in the Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge,” says Gordon.

The team will host the Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge for the third time June 11–13 at RIT and the Hogback Hill Motorcross Track in Palmyra.

About Baja SAE: Baja SAE events are sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers organization. The events consist of static and dynamic events, concluding with a four-hour endurance race. Baja SAE consists of three regional competitions that simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. Engineering students are tasked to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain and sometimes even water. Visit: